Scientists scaling new heights in search for microplastics
Scientists from the University have identified the highest recorded microplastics ever found on Earth – on Mount Everest. Substantial quantities of polyester, acrylic, nylon and polypropylene were found in samples taken from heights of up to 8,440 metres, suggesting that clothing and climbing and camping gear could be contributing to plastic pollution. The samples were collected in 2019, as part of National Geographic and Rolex’s Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition, and then analysed in specialist facilities in Plymouth.
“Microplastics are generated by a range of sources and many aspects of our daily lives can lead to microplastics entering the environment,” said Research Fellow and National Geographic Explorer Dr Imogen Napper, the lead author of the study published in One Earth. “Over the past few years, we have found microplastics in samples collected all over the planet – from the Arctic to our rivers and the deep seas. With that in mind, finding microplastics near the summit of Mount Everest is timely reminder that we need to do more to protect our environment.”